If you are at all familiar with my writing here or my podcast Hoops Temple on the HoopSocial Podcast feed you my dear reader are likely well aware that I am in fact a Lakers fan. So, you may be asking yourself, ‘why is a Lakers fan doing an all-time Raptors team?’ ‘Is he from the Toronto area?’ ‘Does he have some connection to the Raptors?’ Is it merely professional curiosity? There is also a chance you have no idea who am in which case please allow me the chance to put forth my case or loving the Raptors.
You see as a child I became obsessed with NBA Courtside 2 Featuring Kobe Bryant. Like all kids with their favorite video game, I quickly became too good to use the best team in the league. My friends banished me to play with one of the bottom 10 teams. That’s where it all began. The Raptors would quickly become my East Coast team. This beautiful 1999 video game introduced me to one of the weirdest most beautiful teams ever. The flash of Vince Carter and Tracey McGrady, the hard nose rebounding of Antonio Davis alongside Charles Oakley, Dee Brown highlight reels, Dell Curry’s shooting, the small man Muggsy Bogues., this was a team built for a video game. Little did I know they would set me down a path for torture and heart break before one of the most fulfilling moments of my NBA Fandom.
Without further ado, here are my selections for an all-time Toronto Raptors team.
PG – Kyle Lowry
If the Raptors were the Star Wars movie franchise Kyle Lowry is R2-D2, not just because he is on the short thick side but because he is the heart and soul of Toronto while always being the side sick. While never being the primary option for the Raptors, the Lowry plus bench lineups were legendary for most of his tenure. They commonly had a better plus minus then even the starting five. Lowry finished his Raptors tenure 1st in assists and steals, 2nd in points and 1st in nearly every advanced stat. No Raptor has made more All-Star appearances in a Toronto uniform than Kyle Lowry. His goodbye was a sweet sorrow.
SG – DeMar DeRozan
So often players get maligned for not being better than their competition. Think of Drexler after losing to Jordan. No DeRozan was not close to LeBron but he was the driving offensive force for the majority of playoff wins in Raptors franchise history. In his 9 years as a Raptor DeMar finished 1st in points scored with over 2500 more than second place. DeMar led Toronto in scoring for all 5 of their playoff runs with him.
SF – Vince Carter
You always know how much a player means to a franchise when you say goodbye. Carter’s exit was possibly the most painful of all the Raptor’s stars. I remember watching him mail it in. Not even James Harden could be that apathetic to end his tenure. Still would Toronto have made it as a franchise without Vince? It is questionable. Making the all-star game from the 1999-00 season to 2003-04 Carter lifted a franchise who had 90 wins in its first 4 seasons* to the playoffs and in 20001 to a game 7 against the Eastern Conference Finalists.
*The 1998-99 season was shortened due to lockout.
PF – Kawhi Leonard
It is wild to have a single season player on a franchise’s all-time team but it is impossible to leave Kawhi Leonard off after he brought Toronto a championship. As far as single season’s go Kawhi’s lone year also reached great heights for individual success for a Raptor. He posted the second-best box plus/minus of any Raptor, as well as averaged the second most points per game. Leonard leaving was surely a disappointment however coming in the hangover glow of a championship eases his loss.
C – Chris Bosh
It became clear that Chris Bosh would not ascend the ladder of elite power forwards and join the ranks of Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnet as franchise stars rather early in his Raptors tenure but let’s not pretend Bosh was not an offensive juggernaut capable of going at the best. Bosh would have 9, 40 or more-point games, and 48, 15 or more rebound games in his Raptors tenure. If he had any help around him maybe Toronto could have made it into the second round. In 07 the Raptors started Rasho Nesterovic, and Joey Graham. That duo combined to average 6.1 points in the first round. In 08 32-year-old Anthony Parker was second in minutes in the playoffs.
PG – Damon Stoudamire
We all know the big reason I want to write this was to have an excuse to go revisit Damon Stoudamire tape. Mighty Mouse was a blur. Picture young Patty Mills who chugged a red bull before coming onto the court. For a guy who could not touch the rim Stoudamire could hang and play below the rim but with bounce. In his two seasons and a half as a Raptor he averaged 8.8 assists per game (the franchise record), scored 19.6 points per game (5th most), and played 41 minutes per game. In just 200 games Stoudamire played 8209 minutes. Fred VanVleet has played 316 games and just 429 more minutes.
SG – Fred VanVleet
Shoutout to Raptors development and to VanVleet’s mind set of staying ready. In the 2018-19 season VanVleet averaged just 11 points per game and those numbers declined in the playoffs. After seeing his minutes drop from 27.5 in the regular season to 19.4 in the first two rounds of the playoffs VanVleet became the greatest example of the strengths of fatherhood. After his child was born in Chicago VanVleet drove up to Milwaukee and went off. He would finish the Conference Finals and Finals shooting 32 for 68 or 47% from deep. He fully regained and expanded his spot in the rotation during the NBA Finals.
SF – Morris Peterson
Sometimes it is more about presence than peak. As crazy as it sounds Mo Pete has one of the longest Raptors tenures. He only averaged 12 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 assist per game over his 7 seasons but is 4th in all time minutes and 3rd in games played as a Raptor. In a pure longevity case it is hard to deny Peterson his spot here. As far as Raptor career totals go Peterson’s name is in the top 10 for every counting stat aside from assists and blocks.
PF – Pascal Siakam
Siakam has been slowly climbing up the Raptors ranking. The first few years as a reserve really hurt him in the per game conversations but looking at his season-by-season numbers Pascal could easily fight for a starting spot already. He, Kawhi, Bosh, DeRozan and Vince have all made All-NBA second team in a Raptors uniform. No Raptors has made the 1st team. Including this year Pascal has averaged 20 or more for three seasons. Provided he stays healthy and sticks with Toronto he could easily move into the top 5 for points scored by the end of next year.
C – Antonio Davis
Toronto has 7 all-stars and if you forgot about Antonio Davis, you are forgiven but it is not okay. Davis was the second most impactful player during a playoff push where the Raptors pushed Iverson and the 76ers to 7 games on their path to the NBA Finals. In Game 7 of that series Davis led both teams in scoring despite Iverson and Carter playing 48 minutes. The bruising physical Davis had a post prime stretch on Toronto which would see him finish as 4th in total rebounds and 5th in total blocks, despite playing just 310 games. Amir Johnson, who had just 3 fewer rebounds than Davis, played 141 more games in a Raptors uniform than Davis.
PG – Jose Calderon
Similarly, to Mo Pete, Jose is a Toronto mainstay. He is 4th in games and 6th in minutes played. The Spanish point guard never hit the heights of his countryman Pau Gasol or even that of his protégé Ricky Rubio but he was a solid ball distributor. Finishing his Raptor’s tenure tied for 2nd most assists per game Jose managed to have an incredibly low usage rate of just 17.0. While never a star, Jose did finish the 07-08 season with 10.2-win shares, the 5th highest of any raptor in any season.
SG – Doug Christie
It is crazy Doug Christie never made an all-defensive team while in a Raptors uniform. From 25 to 29 Christie was at the peak of his powers. His first full year with the Raptors Christie would average 2.5 steals per game. Reigning defensive player of the year Gary Payton averaged 2.4 that season. If Toronto had been a hair better Christie could have gotten some recognition but instead, he had to wait to get to Sacramento for that. (Remember when Sacramento was good? Doug Christie remembers)
C – Jonas Valanciunas
Are you surprised? I was but this spot really came down to Amir Johnson or Jonas Valanciunas. Big Val is 5th in Raptors win shares, 9th in value over replacement, and fifth in player efficiency rating. He did the dirty work for years and gets no credit. In his seven years he brought in the 2nd most rebounds in franchise history and swatted the 3rd most shots. It is not sexy but the big man belongs.
Two Way Contracts
SF – OG Anunoby
There is little doubt that OG will eventually bump some of the more seasoned members of this squad off. However, for now he still has a lot of stat padding to get in on all time merits. OG currently sits just about 20th in points and rebounds and 10th in steals in Raptors history. 3 or 4 more seasons with an All-star appearance and he is a lock.
PSG – Tracey McGrady
What could have been if only Toronto stuck it out with Carter and McGrady? Celtics fans have a pretty good idea watching Tatum and Brown. Sadly, those in the Six never got to see it. After three seasons, 192 games in August of 2000, McGrady would be sent to Orlando for a 2005 future first round pick who would be Fran Vazquez. If you think Oklahoma City got robbed trading away James Harden at least Kevin Martin played, and their pick became Serge Ibaka. This is downright flagrant and embarrassing. Trading away your brightest young star who is cousins with the only all-star in your franchise’s history for a pick that would convey in 5 years then choosing a player who would never play.
10 Day Hardship Exemption – (If we must)
PF – Andrea Bargnani
Insert Obi Wan Kenobi yelling “you were supposed to be the chosen one”. Imagine how good the Bosh Raptors could have been if only Bargnani was good. The only #1 pick in franchise history was given a good long rope to hang his raptors career on. He has played the 8th most games in franchise history. In the first post Bosh year things looked alright Bargnani averaged 21.4 points per game but was wildly inefficient. Andrea currently sits 5th in all-time Raptors scorers. During his Raptors tenure Andrea’s true shooting was just 53.5% by comparison Russel Westbrook in Houston’s true shooting was 53.6%. And let’s be clear, offense is the only thing he brought to the table. Bargnani did not rebound, pass or defend. There is a place for Andrea in Raptors history but we accept it very begrudgingly.